Turkey today has become a major player in the Middle East, and every development in the Middle East has also entered the Turkish agenda. This is a political role carried forward from the Ottoman Empire to the present day.
The Turkish people have a powerful tradition stemming from a history and culture of helping the needy, a tradition rooted in Islam. The Turkish people, standard-bearers of Islam for centuries, regard this leadership position as serving Islamic countries, as Sultan Selim the Stern put it. For the Turkish people, acting as an older brother means serving rather than ruling, helping and acting as an intermediary. Thanks to these moral virtues and sincerity, Turkey is the natural leader of the Islamic Union that so urgently needs to be established.
Ever since the era of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks have regarded it as their duty to help groups and countries in difficulties due to natural disasters, wars, poverty and social conflict. The Turkish people have never considered ethnic, religious, linguistic or political differences when it comes to that aid, yet it always supports and contributes to international efforts to that end. Indeed, even immediately after the Mavi Marmara incident, which led to a break in relations between Turkey and Israel, the Turkish state sent firefighting helicopters and planes to assist when forest fires broke out in Israel. Turkey showed that even if it is in dispute with a country, it will never deny assistance to the people of that country and will always regard the people as innocent.
In our conception of the state, recognizing the fact if the opposing sides are as little as 1% in the right and taking rational decisions, protecting that right and not burning bridges are always priorities. For example, there has been no change in our policy of visa-free movement with Iran, with which we disagree very much over the Syrian civil war. Turkey is still the only country that the Iranian public can enter without visas. Turkey has never turned to the false policy of punishing an entire people for the errors of its regime.
That way of thinking has persisted exactly the same for the last 11 years. In its foreign policy, the Republic of Turkey has acted not out of pragmatic daily self-interest, but from a perspective and moral structure shaped by the requirements of Islamic morality.
In addition, the sectarian mindset today ruining the whole Middle East has never found any place in Turkey’s policy of state: Turkey has never judged any of the states with which it has established close relations on the basis of their beliefs and has never distinguished between Sunni and Shiite. When we look at the countries with which Turkey has problems or enjoys good relations with, we see that sectarian discrimination plays no role in that.
Taking the example of Egypt, the reason why relations between Turkey and Egypt, which were good during the time of the Muslim Brotherhood, have entered into a more passive stage is not because the new administration belongs to a different sect. Contrary to what some foreign commentators imagine the reason why Turkey does not support Assad in the Syrian crisis is not that Assad is a Nusayri: I would like to remind readers that Turkey was the most influential figure in Syrian foreign policy before it embarked on armed conflict against its own people. Indeed, we must not forget that Turkey was the intermediary behind the scenes of all the talks during Syria’s normalization of relations with Israel. In Iraq, the scene of so much recent sectarian civil conflict, Turkey’s attitude toward the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish administrations has been exactly the same. We know that Turkey, which has recently signed an oil deal with the Kurdish autonomous region, also opened Ziraat Bank, the first foreign bank in the region under Sunni control.
Looking at Turkey’s opening up to Africa and wide-ranging assistance to the continent, which was instrumental in its being invited onto the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee, we can clearly see that Turkey provides help to the needy, irrespective of race, language or religion. Indeed, the World Food Program has named Turkey as an “emerging donor.”
Let us move on to how a climate of tranquility and peace can be built in the Middle East. Although new Arab states were founded in the mid-1900s and an Arab Union was set up, these developments never led to a solution to the problems and sufferings of either the Arab or Muslim world. The reason is that unions “consisting of Arabs only”, or only of one specific group, are stillborn right from the outset. What God desires from Muslims is for them to be united, with no discrimination, and to bring the blessings of stability and peace to the whole world.
Turkey also does all in its power to implement policies that will bring peace to the Middle East. However, it is weak in the face of covert bodies that seek to inflict turmoil and conflict in the Middle East. For that reason, all the efforts in question can only bear fruit with the establishment of an Islamic Union. Some people analyzing the present situation in the Middle East use the current state of affairs to say that Muslims can never be united; this is a false and superficial view. European states that devastated one another for centuries in sectarian wars have managed to unite under the roof of the European Union. As the name suggests, the United States of America is acontinental union established by the unification of 13 colonies on the North American continent. These 13 small states, all of whom had different visions and that were bickering with one another until they decided to unite, succeeded in becoming today’s superpower. The bond of faith that unites Muslims is much stronger than any of these examples; therefore, establishing an Islamic Union is paramount in order to bring peace not only to the region, but to the world.
Adnan Oktar's article on The Frontier Post: